Comedian Kathy Griffin revealed that she attempted suicide last year and struggled with a pill addiction after her controversial 2017 photos with a bloodied President Donald Trump mask almost ended her career. Griffin, 60, also announced on Monday she is being treated for lung cancer even though she never smoked. Griffin has been sober for just over a year and still considers herself an addict.
In 2017, Griffin did a photo shoot with a mask of Trump's likeness that appeared to be bloodied, in a reference to Trump's own controversial comments about Megyn Kelly after a 2016 debate. The fallout from the photos was instant, with Griffin losing jobs and tour dates. CNN fired her from the New Year's Eve Live broadcast, which she co-hosted with her friend Anderson Cooper. In a new interview with ABC News' Nightline, Griffin said Cooper's response "hurt" because she was so close to him. "I think that emotionally, that was the most painful, to have so many friends that, to this day, haven't called," she said.
Griffin said she and her family received death threats. People even tracked down her sister, who was dying of cancer at the time, and called her at the hospital. At first, Griffin did apologize for the photos, but she later rescinded it, calling the outrage "B.S." in August 2017. Although Griffin went on a successful comeback tour, the controversy had lasting effects. Her doctor prescribed her Provigil and later Ambien to help her sleep, as well as painkillers for various injuries. This started her pill addiction, Griffin said.
"I started thinking about suicide more and more as I got into the pill addiction, and it became almost an obsessive thought. I started really convincing myself it was a good decision," Griffin told Nightline. "I got my living revocable trust in order. I had all my ducks in a row. I wrote the note -- the whole thing." After the suicide attempt, she saw a doctor and her husband, Randy Bick, helped her seek treatment. She was placed on a psychiatric hold and two clinicians helped her recover from her pill addiction. She also attended Alcoholics Anonymous, even though she did not drink.
"The detox was nasty," Griffin recalled "I mean, it was months. I mean, the tremors … and the flop sweat, and I was so unsteady. Like, when I would brush my teeth, my husband had to hold my hips so I wouldn't fall over." She would go on two Zoom meetings each day, and sober clinicians tested her every day. Today, she has support through the recovery community she built.
"We have this thing in common, and it's such a mutually supportive environment. I find that very gratifying," Griffin said. "I also like that in recovery, when I talk to other addicts, I love that it's a no-BS kind of a conversation. I mean, you're talking to other addicts that have been in the hospital or been in jail. ... There's not a lot of small talk and I like that."
Sobriety helped Griffin see a "silver lining" in her life. "I am so thrilled and grateful. I feel like, at 60, I'm gonna get a next chapter," she said. "That's the thing everyone said wasn't gonna happen. I believed [it] wasn't gonna happen."
That next chapter includes fighting lung cancer. Griffin announced Monday she was having surgery to remove half of her left lung. Griffin said she has had a mass in her lung for a "long time" and it did not grow until her doctors noticed it suddenly doubled in size. The cancer is stage 1 and has not spread to other parts of her body. "Please stay up to date on your medical checkups," Griffin wrote in a note to fans. "It'll save your life."